A double amputee who lost his arms 40 years ago has been fitted with two bionic arms attached from shoulder level, both of which he can control just by thinking. Scientists have long been working on developing replacement limbs which can can closely imitate the functions of real ones. Indeed, researchers at the Johns Hopkins Applied Physics Laboratory in Maryland have been developing their Modular Prosthetic Limbs (MPLs) for over a decade but it was only this summer that they made history when Les Baugh, a double amputee, used two MPLs simultaneously. Whilst the arms in question are still a work in progress and can’t yet be used outside the laboratory, Baugh, who lost both his arms in an accident four decades ago, has become the "first bilateral shoulder-level amputee" to wear and use the MPLs at the same time. In order for him to be able to control the arms with his brain, Baugh first had to undergo a surgical procedure called targeted muscle reinnervation. "It's a relatively new surgical procedure that reassigns nerves that once controlled the arm and the hand," explained Albert Chi, a trauma surgeon at Johns Hopkins. "By reassigning existing nerves, we can make it possible for people who have had upper-arm amputations to control their prosthetic devices by merely thinking about the action they want to perform." More via Newsweek.
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